For more about Allison and her books visit her website at For now, please relax and brace yourself for the occasionally coherent ramblings of Allison's mind.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Author Update: Allison M. Simon

Ok, here’s the long awaited update. Drum roll please.

Yes, you read the signs correctly. Book number two is out!


For those who read CASE STUDY and loved it, you may or may not love Franklin. For those who read CASE STUDY and hated it, you may or may not love Franklin. It’s very different, and yet similar, because it comes from the same crazy head.

For more information on Franklin Academy, check out the tab to on my website. You can also read the first few chapters, as well as catch links to buy it for Kindle and paperback. Also, the spectacular cover was designed and photographed by my super-talented little brother Jon Meckes (who’s also a fabulous musician).

Happy reading! (Ok, it’s me, so not so happy.) Intense, mind-bending reading!

In other news, we have another big announcement. Second drum roll please (too much tympani for one post? Sorry.)

There will be a sequel to CASE STUDY.

I’ve received many requests for a sequel and was on the fence due to a variety of factors. Finally, I decided the readers were right. Jesse’s story needs to be resolved definitively and in a satisfying way. Look for it early next year. In the mean time, there are several other works under way.

Thanks to all of you for reading my books and staying tuned to my website. You’re the best and I always enjoy interacting with you about my novels, blog entries, and anything really.

That’s all I have for now. Peace.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spam Alert: Reconnecting with my Ignored Fans

I know what some of you are thinking. Wait a second, she just published her second book and she’s talking about spam instead? I know, but since when have we been concerned about following logical patterns?

Ok, I have to apologize to some of you. If you’ve ever tried to comment on one of my posts, you know it requires an authorization process. (I’m speaking to those who submit comments on my website, not the blogspot version. Yes, I mirror the same posts on both. Yes, it’s because I only have twenty readers on each and I’m not about to lose half of them to save an extra three minutes.)

Please know that the authorization process has nothing to do with vetting your comments. I’m not filtering them, it’s the only way I can bar the dozens of spam posts I get each day. The thing is, the spammers are getting better. Sometimes it’s hard to filter out which comments are legit and which aren’t. Sorry if I ever deleted yours by accident.

As time has gone on, however, I realized that I’m not really being fair to the bots, They took the time to attack my site. If I’m not going to approve their comments, the least I can do is respond.
So, here. I’ll do even better than posting your comments. I’ll give you an entire blog entry.

From: Cinthia
Posted to: “My Opponent Hates Babies”
“Wow! Great to find a post konkcing my socks off!”

Dear Cinthia:
Thanks. I try. If I can konkc the socks off just one person with each post, I consider myself a success and my job complete. I take it you dabble in politics?

From: easy surveys for money
Posted to: “Weighing in on Generational Angst”
“If you want to make $20-$50/hour and up to $3500/month of your time working at
home part-time then this is the most important message you’re ever going to read…

It may sound hard to believe, but it’s true. There are thousands of companies out there who are willing to pay for your opinions regarding their products. This is an important part of product research, and they rely on people just like you for your honest opinion!

Imagine getting paid for doing things like:

- Trying out new menu items from popular restaurants
- Take short surveys about new cars that are coming out soon
- Give your opinion about new clothing and shoe designs
But here’s a problem, it’s very hard to find out best survey site and you probably can waste too much time but I just stumbled up website (link redacted) where this guy Jack revealed his secret source where he registered and taking surveys in his free time and earning $265 within 12h and $1440 just within 2 weeks

Click Here To read this amazing story : (link redacted)

Dear Easy Surveys:
Wow, kudos to Jack for sharing his secret. Personally, I’d probably keep it and make $795 within 12h and $4320 just within 2 weeks, instead. Then I could FINALLY buy an iPhone and MacBook like everyone else. Clearly, you don’t need basic writing skills to do this job, so that’s a plus, and I’m obviously an expert on new clothing and shoe designs so I can see this being a match made in heaven.

I have to be honest though, Easy Surveys. As exciting as this sounds, it might not be the most important message I ever read like you promised. I do find it fitting that you sent this to my post on Generational Angst and the struggle of young families versus the older generations to make ends meet relative to their expectations. Obviously, you connected with my thoughts and have done your best, like Jack, to make the world a little brighter. You’re a good man.

No, I’m not clicking that.

From: Nhlanhla
Posted to: “Dear Dr. Fortune Cookie: When Cookies Go Silent”
Wow Sandi thank you for stopping by and conientmmg on my post. I am rejoicing with you that God found you and your husband in His perfect timing, and that you are leading your family in the Lord. I clicked on your comment to come here and thank you for taking the time to leave such a sweet comment. I am so surprised that you featured my post right here on your blog! Thank you!In poking around your blog, I found we have a good bit in common. I’m sure we will visit each other many times. It’s great to meet a fellow homeschooling Christian sister!Have a lovely Valentine’s Day!-Allison

Dear Nhlanhla:
Who’s Sandi? Did I miss something? And why was she conientmmg on your post? Sorry about that. I hope I had nothing to do with it. Oh, ok, God put us together. Got it. Wait…what?  I don’t remember the part of my childhood where I was homeschooled. I was a sister though, to Jonathan, not you. Oh, I see I wrote this to myself. In honor of Valentine’s Day – in July. Apparently, we didn’t cover calendars in homeschooling.

From: Roberta
Posted to: “Jealous of Jessica (but not her power suits)”
my email adress is only a difefrent name so no one knows my real name but its safe wuth you okay so today i got a fortune saying you will conquer obstacles to achieve success. what does it mean? please reply to my email

Dear Roberta:
Oh, well, no, I don’t think so. And if you don’t know what that fortune means, I’m not sure what I could do to help you.

By the way, capitals and punctuation go a long way. Tell your friends.

From: Aoi
Posted to: “In Defense of Fashionistas (and Fashionistos)”
Hi Ari. She’s right about “it comes back, it repeats iseltf.” Clothes always do. What a beautiful lady who looks so full of life and seems so happy. You really know how to find them. Thanks for sharing. I did a post the other day about your blog and how enjoyable it is. Gave out your link so that other’s could come and enjoy too. Take care and thanks.

Dear Aoi:
Hi Aoi. Nice of you to drop in. My name’s not Ari, but that’s ok.

I don’t think I was there for that conversation. It’s not ringing a bell, but I agree with you that fashion trends tend to repeat themselves. That’s what you meant with your cryptic statement regarding the photo of the dead lady, right?

Please don’t give my link out to your friends. I don’t want to have to pay for a spam filter and I’m already on the cusp of needing one. Thanks, though.

From: Marvin
Posted to: “A Good Villain”
WOW !!! The “teasers” are fabulous. Can’t wait to see the rest. Jenna, you did a wuoedrfnl job, but then you had such beautiful subjects in Allison and Jesse. Thank you for capturing the true essence of them. It was great meeting you (again?) and having you as our guest. With love, Gail and Larry

Dear Marvin:
I haven’t hidden anything from you. Look around. Knock yourself out. It’s a little creepy that you’re implying I share an essence with a character from my novel, but as far as fake people go, he’s pretty cool so I guess I can live with that. I have to admit I’m not as impressed as you are by what Jenna has accomplished. Since Jesse’s true essence is the fact that he doesn’t exist, it’s probably not difficult to capture it. Well, then again, that’s nearly impossible so I take it back. What Jenna did is actually really impressive.

It was great meeting you too, Marvin, but no, I don’t think we’ve met before. Oh, I mean Gail. And Larry.

From: Trisna
Posted to: “Coffee Chat #1”
2011 Thanks, I have recently been saeichrng for information about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

Dear Trisna:
100% positive. I was there when I wrote it. I’m sorry your life is so dull that a post of me rambling random facts is a.) something you’ve been scouring the earth for,  and b.) was the best you could find with your massive efforts.

As for the bottom line, I’ll hook you up with my new friend “Easy Surveys for Money.” I bet he could help you with that. Now, that’s a source I can’t confirm. Let me know how that works out for you.

From: James
Posted to: “Allison: Acknowledging the Acknowledgments”
Several of these replies on this post are garbage, You should delete them.

Dear James:
I couldn’t agree more. Already done.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Facebook Fraud: It’s Time for a Facebook Manual

So all the kids are doing it. And now the moms, dads, and grandparents, too.

I realized the other day that I’m kind of a hypocrite when it comes to social-networking. I’m a bona fide Facebook Fraud.

I don’t surf. I don’t post pictures. I don’t tag people or know what those sparkly-looking games are. I don’t know how to turn some things off and other things on. I don’t understand why people I don’t know can invite me to things I can’t go to and copy me on messages I don’t need to see.

I’m a flyby user who logs in when I get an e-mail notification that someone contacted me. If your headline pops up in that big box at exactly the moment I enter my username and password, I’m happy to comment, but it’s really nothing short of luck. It’s not that I don’t care about all the other things you’ve said, I just didn’t see them.

Call me a social-networking hypocrite, but Facebook is a tool for me. A way to contact people and disperse information at a viral pace. The thing is, it hasn’t replaced my real-life social-networking, which means I’ve been left in the dust.

It’s not hate, because I actually like Facebook in theory. I’m on board with the concept of being able to connect with almost anyone at any time. Even though I’ve never said a word to half the people on my friend list, there’s a certain security in knowing I could.

My real problem is that it changed the landscape of our culture away from the screen. It’s created several new problems and didn’t fix some of the ones it should have. I’m not a heavy user (as is obvious by the calendar months separating my wall posts), so here are some results of that deficiency:

  1. I didn’t send a card.

Remember when your friends use to call you with big news like they were getting married or having a baby? Some of you may even remember when news came through letters and postcards. Now, I’m responsible for staying up-to-date on other people’s milestones. The burden is on me to poke my head into their universe, not on them to push the highlights into mine.

When I find out a week after something happened, I don’t get an apology, I get an annoyed response because I didn’t add a comment to the original post(s). After all, they “announced it” in plenty of time.

That’s fantastic, but based on my usage pattern, the statistical probability of me seeing that post works out to about .78%. I didn’t see it, sorry.

Congratulations, by the way.

  1. No more small talk.

This one really hits home. I’m not great with small talk to begin with. I have this chip in my brain that insists people have things to do. They don’t want to waste time talking to me about the current humidity level and positioning of the sun. It’s not that I’m aloof. I’m not even shy. I love people and I love talking to them, I just can’t convince my brain that it’s ok to bother them with stuff like that.

If someone approaches me and wants to chat about whether or not it’s hot enough for me, by all means, I’ll give them my opinion until the bus arrives to take us to the airport. But my subconscious immediately shuts off my frontal lobe at the idea of initiating such a conversation with the Kindle-reader next to me.

I have the same issue at parties with people I know. Those close to me understand this, and are happy to discuss the socio-political ramifications of legalizing gambling in a small municipality or why a particular marketing campaign failed and what the Fortune 500 company should do differently.

With the rest of my casual friends and acquaintances, it’s “so how’s that new job working out? How’s little Suzy? I heard you were buying a house?” I just started getting good at that when Facebook came along. Now, those perfectly legitimate icebreakers are the equivalent of saying “so, I see you wore a yellow shirt.”

I get the look that says, “How can you even ask that? I’ve been detailing the entire correspondence chain with our realtor and narrated the play-by-play for Suzy’s trip to the dentist last week to fix her broken tooth. And didn’t you know I lost out to Jerry in Accounting for the job after all and am still formatting spreadsheets for the VP of marketing? My status update yesterday was that I wished I could stab myself in the eye.”

Some of them even utter nicer versions of “the entire story’s on Facebook if you want to check it out.” Yeah, I don’t. I just wanted talk to you.

But I really like your yellow shirt. Sorry about Suzy.

  1. No such thing as TMI.

A friend and I love to use the term TMI (too much information), mostly because we know it’s ridiculous that two women with careers and families actually use that term in serious conversation. But my goodness, Facebook has completely eliminated the concept from our lives.

It used to be that things done in the bathroom and bedroom were private. We didn’t broadcast our faults and moments of poor judgment. Now we have apps for that. Yep, you can stamp your name on your career coffin before you even leave the bar.

On a daily basis, we can watch people get heated about something or other and implode in front of hundreds of people. What would have been a venting tirade with a close friend over a glass of wine, now becomes a public display of insanity that will define you in the minds of thousands of friends and friends of friends.

I have a rule. When I’m tempted to post something, I first delete it, and then post it later if I still think it’s a good idea. It’s almost never determined to be a good idea.

  1. As if we needed to extend office politics to our personal lives.

Have you noticed we now have the term, “Facebook Etiquette”? The irony is that this lovely euphemism refers to a set of standard codes and procedures that doesn’t exist. We’re making it up as we go, and the process is governed mostly by trial and error. Here’s some Facebook math:

Nebulous rules + Public Persona + Permanent Record = Dramatic Apologies

“Ok, so that ruined four relationships and cost me my Christmas bonus. Guess I’ll add that to item 4.a. in what not to post on someone’s wall.”

  1. Wow. That is not my best angle.

This one ties closely to item #4. We’ve lost a significant amount of control over our own lives. You can be a hermit and click every privacy setting in your profile. You can use a picture of a bar of soap as your profile image and it still doesn’t mean your entire life won’t be slapped all over the internet for the world to see.

I don’t know how many pictures of me are on Facebook, probably hundreds, and I didn’t post a single one. Advice columnists love to respond to complaints with useless ideas like “you need to ask people to take them down if you don’t want them up.” Sure, like that’s gonna happen. 

For one, there’s no way to do that without making yourself sound like a complete tool to everyone you know and love. Second, I’m not even sure that’s possible. I know about the ones where people tagged me. What about the ones when they didn’t?

(And to those who are reading this and have posted some, don’t worry. I’m not upset about it. Just take down the ones where my eyes are half-shut and make me look like a drunk zombie.)

It’s the same with information. Thankfully, my friends are generally respectful and conscientious, but we all know there’s not much preventing a spiteful (or stupid) acquaintance from destroying your life with almost nothing but a Facebook account.

I heard a radio personality talking about the study that found the word “Facebook” in an astronomical percentage of divorce proceeding transcripts.

And what are you going to do to stop it? If you can answer that, please let me know because right now my best idea is to crawl into a ditch and wait for the Apocalypse. I can accept that for plan “H” but I’d like an “A” through “G” as well.

The scary thing is, I could probably add several more bullet points, but I won’t do that to you. You get my point. So yes, you will see me using Facebook. You will even see me seem to like Facebook when I post (I do). Just don’t get mad at me if I accidentally post on your wall instead of update my status, or deny your friend request when I meant to accept it. I probably didn’t see your post about anything unless you did something to trigger my e-mail notification system. It’s not that I don’t like you or care, I do, I’m just Facebook deficient.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dear Dr. Fortune Cookie: Animal Kingdom

Before we start, I’d like to give a nod to Angela & Chris. You’re awesome. I did the math and you account for 40% of my fan base so well done!

(Editor’s note: You may submit all requests for fortune cookie interpretations through the comment sections on Allison’s blogs or contact her through Facebook. And while you’re there, “like” me so I can hit 30 fans and be able to actually see stats.)

Let’s get right to it. As always, these are actual fortunes from fortune cookies.

Dear Dr. Fortune Cookie,

“It’s better to be the beak of a hen than the tail of an ox.”

Good luck,

Not A Farm Animal

Dear Farm Animal,

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’re younger. Maybe high school, maybe college. Either that or you’re a slacker who just now realized Mom’s garage isn’t cutting it and you need a job. Whatever your station in life, it’s clear that you’re at a crossroads and the cookie gods see warning lights.

Look, you’ve got two choices.

On the surface there’s the less glamorous “beak” route. That’s going to take time, effort, maybe even more schooling. Only you know the details, but you’re not sure it’s worth it. So you go through all that, then what? You get to pluck worms off the sidewalk? Awesome. They’re slimy.

The pretty option is to take the low-hanging fruit and be the ox tail. Slip right into a defined role, no ambiguity, easy to visualize. Very safe.

But I’m warning you now, that’s not where you want to go.

You’re missing a very important distinction: hen beaks do a lot more than just slurp worms. They also gather seeds and make nests. Heck, if you’re in a horror movie, they can peck people’s eyes out and portend doom.

Being an ox tail has no risk, so I see the attraction, I do. But no risk, no reward, right? Latch onto the ox and hopefully you like swatting flies of animal butts, because that’s all you get and all you’ll ever get.
Build nests and peck people’s eyes out, don’t swat flies.

Dear Dr. Fortune Cookie,

I thought you would like this one:



Dear Unsigned,

Thanks for the picture. It makes my blog more attractive to casual drop-ins.

“People who are late are often happier than those who have to wait for them.”

I’m going to guess that this one hit home. I’m also going to guess you sent this to me because you’re hoping I twist the obvious message into some contorted interpretation that doesn’t leave you looking like a jerk for being late all the time.

Sorry. Get a better alarm clock. Better yet, I’ll send you mine .

Best wishes,

Dr. Fortune Cookie

Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Update: Weighing in on Current Events

There’s been a lot going on lately, so let’s get right down to it.
(**Editor’s note: This is not a comprehensive list, so please don’t be offended by the lack of commentary on celebrity deaths, the Edwards trial, and the NBA Draft)
“Facebook IPO Fiasco”:
I love how journalists are scouring their thesauruses to describe the catastrophic event that was the Facebook IPO. The past 20 years have featured mass genocide, multiple wars, horrific terrorist attacks, a tsunami that decimated an entire nation, another one that decimated almost an entire continent, hurricanes, wildfires, tornados, plane crashes, school shootings, high profile child molestation rings, and a global financial meltdown that’s leaving many nations on the brink of economic collapse. A man freakin’ ate another guy’s face (see below) and the media treated the Facebook IPO like that’s the sign of the Apocalypse (my money’s on the dude eating faces).
Look, I know people lost money. I know it’s looking like another example of Wall Street screwing over Main Street, but really, isn’t that par for the course by now? Are any of us really surprised by what happened? This crap doesn’t even faze me anymore. I’m much more annoyed by the new Timeline setup for our Facebook pages. I’ll be darned if I can find something on my own page, let alone someone else’s. How about using some of your new fortune to fix that, Facebook?

Phillip Phillips – New American Idol:
Wow. There’s a surprise. A cute white guy playing a guitar won American Idol.
I’m not sure why women, non-white men, and people who can’t play guitar even bother at this point.

There Really Are Zombies:
Not to make light of a horrific incident, but if you haven’t read the account of the homeless man who ate another homeless man’s face, you’re lucky. I was going to link to it, but I can’t bring myself to promote it. We’ll leave the actual details at that.
What I do want to talk about, however, is my frustration with the media and rationalists out there trying to convince me this guy wasn’t a zombie. Let’s talk about zombies for a minute.
There’s a lot of zombie lore to sift through, but in my opinion, there are three key features that characterize a zombie.
1.       They eat people.
The guy literally chewed up a man’s face in broad daylight.
2.      They can only be stopped by death.
He ignored police warnings and kept eating the man through a slew of gunshots. He stopped when he was dead.
3.      They’ve lost all mental faculties except the desire to eat people.
He turned to the cops and growled with human flesh hanging from his mouth. Then he continued eating a person until he was shot dead.
Ok, so here’s where people roll their eyes and say he’s not a zombie, he was just on drugs.
Really? That’s it? That’s your argument? I don’t care if tainted Q-tips turn people into zombies. If a guy growls and eats people to the point where he has to be killed to stop, he’s a zombie. Period. Whether it’s because of drugs, a rare virus mutation, Voodoo, or Q-tips, it doesn’t matter. You think the poor man who was attacked cares that the dude only ate his face because of some bad trip? No. He doesn’t. Sometimes the devil isn’t in the details, the devil is just a zombie.

Republican Nomination:
So our 2012 Presidential choices are Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. My question is, does it even matter anymore? Does anyone actually trust either party? Can you even articulate a clear point that either candidate supports? Do we trust our legislators to look out for our best interests instead of their own butts? Even if by some miracle they are, do we actually believe they can make any kind of difference in a system so bureaucratic most ideas never make it out of committee?
One of my favorite episodes of the Simpsons is when Homer and crew go to Washington DC and learn how laws really get passed. You need to watch it. They should teach 4th grade government classes with that show alone. Think of the budget implications. One year of studies condensed into a half hour. Plus a catchy song.
I just ranted against politicians a few weeks ago, so we don’t have to go over this again, but I don’t believe the American people are as stupid as they think we are. They’re so stuck in their career politician bubble that most of them have lost touch with the people they’re supposed to represent.
They think we’re too ignorant to vote based on anything but fuzzy sound bites and physical attribute preferences. We’re not, we just know it doesn’t matter anymore. The system is too broken as it stands to think that investing hope in one carbon copy over another is going to make a difference.
I’ll keep voting in every election, but only because I want to preserve my right to whine.

Interest Rates:
OMG! They’re low! Did you know that?? Why didn’t anyone tell me!!

And finally, in case you weren’t aware, people are suing for stupid stuff again.

Ok, so maybe politicians do have a point.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm Back! And Groveling

Ok, so here’s my belated thank you note.

You know how you got that candle from Aunt Millie and you suddenly realized in all the hectic craziness of your life you forgot to send a thank you note? You sent the other 12 for those house warming gifts that trickled in over the last month, but poor Aunt Millie is still wondering if you even got the thing, let alone whether it’s on your coffee table. She’s probably miffed at this point, it’s been three months now, and you feel terrible, but what do you do? You can’t just send a quick note like you did for all the others. You’ve missed that window. You need something more. At this point you pretty much have to author a groveling opus that’ll send her into convulsive sobs of touching emotion. That should work, but since you have no idea how to write that, you just continue to hold off. And time drags on. And the sentiment grows. And now you need to send your own candle to make up for it.

Well, that’s this entry. It’s been weighing on me to post for quite a while, but as time passed my options for acceptable entries diminished. I couldn’t just slap up a Dr. Fortune Cookie response to break the silence. After weeks of nothing, I needed more than a few band recommendations. The worst part is, I’ve even had ideas, just not the time to sit down and execute them.

So here we are. My groveling post of apology. Feel free to sob and wail.

There’s no excuse for my silence, but for the sake of an explanation, if there were a time-consuming venture that justified my absence, I’d guess re-writing a 350 page novel would make the list.

As some of you know, after a couple years of editing, I had finally begun querying my latest project. So far I’m ten for ten in premise interest, zero for ten in writing style fit. Apparently people don’t want to read a high concept YA paranormal suspense novel written in a style suitable for middle-aged psychology professors. Who knew?

We like lists here, so let’s highlight the three options I faced:

1. Take the delusional American Idol contestant approach to pursuing success.

“My mom and choir teacher say this is the bestest book in the world. These dumb agents don’t know a thing about writing. I’ll be back America! This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me! You’ll see! I’m gonna find that niche of APA phD’s who like YA paranormal romances and sell millions of copies! I’m gonna be huge! I’ll haunt your dreams as the one who got away!”

I’d then waste the next ten years of my life reading kindly worded rejection letters.

2. Decide there really is an untapped appetite for intriguing premises delivered in an inaccessible, detached tone. I’d then self-publish to find that niche.

“I’m gonna sell 32 books to people I know!”

3. I could bite the bullet and realize I have something special and take the hard road to make it happen and do it justice.

Options 1 & 2 would not have required a several week absence. As I’m sure you can guess, I went with option 3. So here I am. After 1 year of writing, 2 years of editing, countless reviews by friends and acquaintances, dozens of queries, dozens of rewrites of queries, more reviews, more edits, and an insane number of hours, I decided I loved the idea and characters enough to start over. So I did. Which meant I didn’t have much time for blogging.

Now I’m back. Thanks for your patience. You may not need a tissue, but I do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Opponent Hates Babies

I was originally going to do a post about American Idol and re-evaluate some of my comments the other day.  A lot can change in a few weeks, and I was happy to revisit the issue.
And then, I saw it. American Idol had no chance against this.
Shoved between two local ad spots about something I can’t remember, was that grainy, dark, overly dramatic tone that can only mean one thing: political ad.
There’s a special election for a local race in my district, and campaigning is in full swing. We’ve got yard signs, we’ve got phone calls, we’ve got postcard mailers in our mailboxes. Apparently, that also means we’ve got cheesy political ads.
The reasonable, truth-seeking debater in me hates political ads, which is difficult since the snarky cynic side loves them. Come on, in what other context do you get to make up blatant lies about someone and pretend it’s not your fault by adding “Committee to Elect” in front of you name? I wish I could do that.
“Allison was late to work today because she rescued a burning bus of kittens on the way, says the Committee to Elect Allison Simon. Cuddles will be forever grateful.”
In theory, politics should be the one field that lives and breathes my Primer in Ideological Discourse. It’s not like I spent a lifetime composing that opus of truth and you were fortunate enough to have it bestowed upon you in my final hours. I threw together a few key points in my in-laws’ guest room and slapped them up with numbers in front. Those were general ideas that are supposed to be common sense and certainly second nature to supposed learned professionals.
Seriously, these are people who make a living at events called “Debates.” Their whole existence depends on their knowledge and stance on controversial issues. They wear power suits like nobody’s business. They’re Ivy League millionaires who should follow the rules like you and I stop for freight trains.
And yet, they’re notorious for the opposite. We don’t trust them. We don’t believe a word they say. They amaze us with their ability to talk for hours and say nothing. They straddle lines we didn’t even know could be a line, and 9-year-old bullies blush at the pace in which they hurl names.
At election time we expect stupid commercials that not only insult their opponents, but insult our intelligence as well. I don’t know what I saw last night. Apparently, we’re supposed to believe his opponent is pro-spousal abuse, pro-tearing-down schools-to-drill-for-oil, and pro-whatever-was-going-on-in-the-dark-creepy-geinocological-office.
Right. I’m sure when his opponent sat down with his election committee those were the headings on his “Platform Spreadsheet.”
“Ok, Sam. So after we legalize abuse, which school should we tear down first? I’m pro-large corporations so let’s just put all the kids in a work camp so they’re not a drain on resources.”
Personally, I’m pro-not-being-treated-like-an-idiot.
You know what I really learned from that ad? That the guy running it has a very weak platform if all he could come up with were ridiculous generalities stretched into outright lies. At the very least spend your campaign money on shots of you chatting with an elderly couple in their dated wood-paneled parlor room. Kiss a baby. Bend down and pat a random dog in the park. Smile at the mailman. If you’re not going to say anything of substance, at least make yourself not look like a jerk.
And this, everyone, is the perfect illustration of what happens when you don’t follow the rules for respectful ideological discourse. You end up looking silly. You end up looking dishonest and uncomfortable and completely out of your league.
You end up implying your opponent hates babies and murders bunnies and now you get a blog post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coffee Chat #1

I just made coffee. Grab a cup. Have a seat. Let’s talk.    
We’ve been getting to know each other for a while now. Wait, no. That’s the problem. Actually, I just drone on and on about myself. That would be fine if I were remotely interesting, but I’m not. The thing is, I happen to know a lot of you out there are. I also know from personal interactions and the private comments you’ve sent that you even relate to some of the posts.
So please, this is me, asking you, to make yourselves known. I love getting your private comments. I love talking to you. Now, it’s your turn to talk back.
Please post something about yourself. Anything. Funny. Serious. Completely random.
I feel like we always talk about me.
Since it is my blog, I’ll start. You already know more than you want to, but here are some extra tidbits.
1.       I’m deathly afraid of spiders. I’m so afraid of spiders that I can’t even kill spiders. I can’t get close enough. I don’t like talking about spiders. I don’t like thinking about spiders. And I especially don’t like people who say “don’t worry, they won’t hurt you.” That’s right. They won’t. Because I won’t go within 10 feet of a spider. So unless it’s one of those weird rainforest leaping spiders or hyper-projectile vomit spiders, it won’t get close enough to hurt me. I even have a built-in spider radar that can detect them way before they detect me. It freaks people out. We’ll be talking and then I freeze. Two rooms over is a spider. They don’t see anything, but it’s there. Trust me. I have to go now. That’s how much I don’t like spiders. I may need help.
2.      My sunglasses were $5.99, but they look like they were at least $12.99. That’s value.
3.      I like food better in theory than in practice. Eating and preparing food is a nuisance. I’ll be first in line for the pill version. Cooking for me is adding a condiment to my instant mac & cheese. May I recommend horseradish sauce or spicy brown mustard to you heat lovers.  Avocado makes a great addition to grilled cheese. Chicken nuggets are more appealing from the oven than the microwave. I use an oven. See? I cook.
4.      I don’t like plants. I should say, I don’t like having plants. I actually like plants, which is why I don’t like when people give them to me. I kill them. I kill them dead no matter how hard I try not to. It’s like they sense fear. My earnestness is a poison to their little green souls. And it’s painful to watch the slow shriveled last breaths that inevitably make our plant-human relationship a tragic mistake. It’s too stressful. I’d rather have a Roman bust.
5.      Speaking of Roman busts, I’m a Rome-a-phile. I like anything about ancient Rome. Movies, books, art, anything. I read books about Rome for fun that make Latin 2 students cringe. Heck, I even took Latin 2 in high school as an elective. I have dozens of worthless Roman coins that I love just because they’re Roman. The thing is, I don’t even admire much about Rome. I’m just fascinated by it.
Ok, enough about me. Your turn. C’mon. Don’t leave me hanging. I already get enough spam from SEO reps telling me they can tell by the lack of comments I don’t have any friends. Yes, SEO rep. That’s a great strategy. Make me feel like a loser. That’ll win my business.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dear Dr. Fortune Cookie: Planning Your Future

Dear Dr. Fortune Cookie,
My fortune tonight said "Put your mind into planning today. Look into the future."

What could this mean? Write a to-do list while gazing into a crystal ball?

Curiouser and curioser.

Dear Curious,
It’s a rare treat these days to encounter specific tidbits of prophesy from the cookie gods. For whatever reason in recent years, they have adopted a more vague and universal approach to their communication with us.
In light of that, I certainly can’t blame you for your general approach to interpretation. After all, why should they bless you with a direct message when the rest of us receive only broad truths?
But you’ve been contacted and now have a very specific task ahead of you. I’m glad you’ve sought my counsel while there’s still time. They’re not asking you to plan today’s activities, though you should be opening your date book as we speak. They’re asking you to plan for the future today, as in, right now.
Hopefully, you’re already prepared, but in case you’re not, the cookie gods have warned you, so take heed: This summer is poised to be an exceptional TV season. If your household is not equipped with a DVR, you still have a few weeks to call your cable provider.
Trust me, as an addicted DVR user, they haven’t steered you wrong.
Dr. Fortune Cookie
(Editor’s Note: If you would like to submit your fortune cookie fortune for interpretation, please send your letter to Dr. Fortune Cookie through Allison M Simon’s page on Facebook or as a comment on this website. Comments posted anonymously will remain anonymous.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In Defense of Fashionistas (and Fashionistos)

Ok, I’m going somewhere I don’t go often. I know I may come across as a pop culture snob at times. “Ooh, look at me! I only watch movies that you have to read! Ooh, I don’t listen to music you’ve heard of! Ooh, I’m not a fan of Twilight. Ooh, I don’t like when people cause car accidents because of their stupid iPhones!”
But when it comes to fashion, I came to a harsh realization the other day as I attempted week four of my experiment to be more stylish: it’s all a defense mechanism. I’m the copout, not the masses. See, it’s actually hard work to conform and it’s only fair that I admit it. I know you think my tongue is firmly in my cheek right now, but it’s not. I’m dead serious. “Dressing for Success” is hard and I have respect for those who can do it.
I’d say my fashion sense straddles a confusing line, but it’s more of a trapezoid, really. Somewhere muddled in rock chic, feminine sporty, laidback urban, and business casual is my wardrobe. I wear what I have. And there’s no rhyme or reason to what I have.
A few weeks ago I got caught in the What Not to Wear web of fashion guilt. As victim after victim marched on camera, I found myself saying “wait, I wore that Tuesday” more often than I would have liked. Inspired by a few friends who somehow look like magazine covers to do yard work, I decided to try my hand at fashion as well.
Let me tell you, it was ugly (but not literally).
Reason 1: It’s expensive and time-consuming.
You have to go to stores. You have to drop what you’re doing, get in your car, and go to stores. You might as well ask me to replace your roof. But I was committed, so there I was, in a store, gazing at the sea of clearance racks like a goldfish asked to pick its favorite three drops of water. I had no clue what I was doing, I only knew I didn’t belong there.
As other shoppers circled around me with their armloads of ocean water, I sensed I was fighting a losing battle. I studied them for a moment. Studied as they expertly manhandled those racks and seemed to know when to pull something off them and when to keep shuffling. I tried it to. I probably even looked like I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t. I only knew that some things came with free belts and other things didn’t and getting a belt seemed better than not getting a belt.
After two hours and six thousand garments, I walked away with three shirts and a pair of jeans. That’s fashion, and I stink at it.
Reason 2: Accessories.
As if it’s not hard enough picking out a stylish top and pair of pants, truly fashionable people also accessorize. Look at them closely next time you admire someone. They don’t just have the perfect jeans. In addition to clothing, they wear things like scarves. Scarves! It never even occurred to me to pop over to the scarf section after I was done with my belt shirts. And I’m not talking about the functional ones when it’s 20 degrees outside. I’m talking about those pretty circle ones that make someone look like they know what they’re doing. Those are the people I wanted to be, but now know I can’t. I can’t, because I didn’t know about scarves.
They also must have endless drawers of costume jewelry. I have my six pairs of earrings and two necklaces and I thought that was fine. I could cycle among them without a thought. I rarely wear necklaces anyway. They always bang on my laptop or get caught on my seatbelt. But fashionable people don’t cycle. It seems like they never even wear the same piece twice. I have no clue how they do that. No one has that much money. Well, no one I know. So it must be magic or something. I’m not kidding. I know it’s not possible that they’ve never worn the same thing twice, but truly fashionable people are master magicians. They can take the same shirt and make it look like four different shirts spread out over a year. I think as long as I don’t repeat a shirt in the same week I’m good.
They also know what to do with things like that big feather earring. Yes, I saw it on that turning thingy in the jewelry section. Yes, I thought it looked cool, but I’ll be darned if I’d know what to do with it. But they know. And they look amazing. I’d look like Peacock #2 in the rock musical of Noah’s Ark.  
Reason 3: Shoes.
I have many roles at my job, one of which is in IT. That may sound impressive, but it really means I spend a lot of time crawling around under desks and playing with power cords. I climb on a lot of boxes, stand on chairs, and squeeze behind things. Heels and I don’t have a very good relationship.
Try being a fashionable woman without wearing heels. You can’t.
I have my favorite flats, and they’re not even old lady support shoes. They’re actually various shades of glittery cuteness, but they’re not what I’m supposed to be wearing. I know this because all my pants are too long. Pants are made to be worn with heels. Flat shoes are made to be worn on the one day every two weeks that you don’t wear heels.
And it’s not like you can have just one pair of heels to get you through the season. You need a pair of funky ones to wear with your non-funky outfits to make them work. You need plain ones to wear with your crazy outfits to make those work. That’s what Stacy and Clinton say, and I believe them. I do, the problem is, my logical brain can’t seem to process that. You need at least 5 pairs of heels and you wear them with the opposite of what you think you should.
I can’t wear heels anyway. That means I’ve lost the fashion battle right out of the gate.
Reason 4: Go, but not match.
And finally, reason #4 why I will never be as fashionable as I want to be. Stacy says your outfits need to go, but not match. If I knew what that meant, we’d be having a much different monologue right now.
Ok, I should clarify, I know what that means, I just have no idea how to execute it. Matching is easy. I’ve been playing that game since preschool.
“Oh! Blue! Here’s a blue stripe. Here’s a blue that’s not a stripe. I can wear my blue eye shadow and blue earrings with it!” That makes sense, right? Logical brain says, yes! You have an outfit.
Clinton and Stacy say no! No, no, no! You put that blue stripe with a red top, a yellow handbag and leopard print heels.
Wait, huh? Now the math gets hazy. So if I wear leopard print heels with a leopard handbag, I’m on the show for looking like a hooker, but if I wear leopard print heels with a yellow handbag, I’m accessorizing.
And here’s where the gap between the haves and the have-nots becomes irreparable. This is not a learned a skill. You can give me an unlimited budget, a week of time, a stack of scarves, heels, belts, and jewelry. You can coach me on the right cuts for my body type, the appropriate looks for work versus play, and an entire mountain of choices to achieve it all. But that means nothing if you don’t have the innate ability to distinguish “going” from “matching.”
And that’s what it all boils down to, right? The fashionable can stand in that ocean of possibilities and decide which three drops of water they should bring home with them. They know there’s a scarf section and a sunglasses section and a hair section that has those little flowers. They know when to wear those little flowers and when they’d just look like forest nymphs. I’m a forest nymph. And a peacock. And a slob whose pants are too long.
 Fashion is not a science. It’s an art. It’s an ability. It’s a subjective sixth sense. If it were something that could be learned, I could join their ranks.
But my experiment taught me that I can’t. I don’t have the gift. I don’t know how to wear a peacock feather. I just want the free belt.